Commissioners approve updates for Project Grace, will seek financial approval in July

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — At today’s meeting, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve an amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the development of Project Grace and, following a public hearing, directed staff to apply to the Local Government Commission (LGC) for approval of the lease agreement for the project.

The initial MOU, which can be viewed here, continues to outline the structure of the project, with Zimmer Development managing the construction of both the public and private facilities on the site. At the end of construction on the public components, the county would have a 20-year lease on the facility and would then own the public components at no additional cost. The private development on the block would include residential and mixed use that would enhance the downtown area with new opportunities and provide additional tax revenue to the county and city.

Approved updates to the MOU, which can be viewed in the amendment here, include added square feet, a reduced annual lease rate for the county with exhibit design paid directly by the county, a new stair tower in the parking garage, additional private investment, and inclusion of a stated commitment to the project’s continuation by the county. A more detailed overview of the MOU updates can viewed here.

“Project Grace has been in the works for many years now and has been shaped by the public’s input with a focus on ensuring the best use of county resources and highest opportunities for private investment,” Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman said. “Throughout the years, the county has remained committed to this project and the extreme potential of this block. We are now seeing it become a reality and know that it will completely transform the downtown area. It is going to create a destination where residents and visitors can actively learn, engage with important county resources, discover history and science, and enjoy hospitality, shopping, and downtown living.”

Next steps for the project include going before the LGC for approval of the project’s lease agreement, which will take place on July 12.

The county has kept LGC staff informed of the project and the financial framework throughout the process, and the July meeting will be the formal submission for consideration. If approved, permitting for the Library and Museum building will be finalized and construction will begin in August or September.

View more information, FAQs, and updates about the project at NHCgov.com/project-grace.

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